So far we have looked at the Miami Dolphins secondary and the offensive line. The team itself makes up about 90% of the production on the field, but we can not discount the remaining 10%. In fact it could be argued that 10% has more to do with the success of a football team on the field than any of the players and positions combined.
If you take a look at the New England Patriots who have dominated the AFC East for the last thirteen years you will find one constant. Bill Belichick. Like him or hate him, the guy can coach football. The Patriots succeed because of good coaching and o.k. one dig, a great cameraman, but seriously the Patriots have found their success by the way the team is prepared.
That is not what the Miami Dolphins have had in those same 13 seasons.
If Joe Philbin isn’t entering the 2014 season on the hot seat, he should be. Philbin has lacked any consistency with his approach to the game mainly due to the fact that he allows his coordinators to call the game and manages the field. The problem with that is he takes accountability for it himself when the blame should be shouldered by his coordinators. Nothing was more evident than last years season collapse that saw the Dolphins put up seven points in it’s final two games. Philbin took the blame but it was offensive coordinator Mike Sherman who truly bore the shame.
Following the season Mike Sherman had his contract terminated by a very reluctant Joe Philbin who almost quit the team over being told to fire his long time mentor. This training camp will provide insight into how well Philbin meshes with his new coaching staff. Will he take control away knowing that his coaching career with the Dolphins hangs in the balance or will stand by and orchestrate the practices instead?
Philbin knows how to coach football and he needs to be more hands on during the practices. He has shown a very solid approach to details but unfortunately those details are not in the mechanics of the players themselves. That is something he needs to work on. He needs to become the captain of this football team and inspire his team to play harder, it’s something that Philbin has lacked in his two seasons thus far. He simply doesn’t inspire his players. It’s something to watch in training camp this year.
You can’t look at Joe Philbin as a question mark heading into camp without looking at the man who will run his offense, Bill Lazor. Many believe that Lazor could be the Dolphins top free agent acquisition of the entire off-season and if he can improve the Miami Dolphins offense he likely will be.
Lazor is installing a hybrid West coast offense and spread offense that was used by the Philadelphia Eagles under Chip Kelly last season where Lazor served as the quarterbacks coach. Lazor is young and still has a lot to prove to the NFL. He is an up and coming coach and a lot of eyes will be on him this year as he progresses through the season taking an underperforming offense and making them better.
Lazor will have to start with a brand new offensive line, which is a good thing. He will need to rework some of the mechanics of quarterback Ryan Tannehill as well as the timing Tannehill has with his wide-receivers, specifically Mike Wallace. Then of course there is Mike Wallace who needs to be utilized more than a decoy. Wallace is too talented to use on fly and out routes. He needs to be put in motion, find favorable match-ups, and run the post. Lazor will be tasked with bringing that kind of play to Miami.
Perhaps more importantly, Lazor needs to be creative. He can’t fall back on simplicity and continue to run the same plays over and over again like Sherman. He can’t allow Joe Philbin to dictate the play calling or the personnel, he needs to approach this offense with the same fervor he took with him to Philadelphia where he made Nick Foles a household name.
Training camp is going to give fans the first real glimpse of what the season will hold for the Dolphins offense and watching the implementation process of that offense by Lazor will be one of the more exciting elements of this years camp.